Sunday, November 17, 2019

2019.11.17 Transforming God

The age of anxiety is upon us—globally.

What DO we teach and tell our children? They are not immune to the talk and the worry in the air, on the air, all over the internet, in the corridors of locked-up-for-security schools. Civics courses teach the history and structure of government. They and are good and returning to classrooms, but what are we doing in religious settings? What are we hearing from pulpits? I hear good hope and Advent spirituality of light. Still we are in darkness nationally and internationally. I say and think to myself, “Fear not.”  Then I hear myself say, “Too late!” Then I laugh. It helps.

According to Mary Hunt, co-director of WATER (Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual): "Finally, since so many roots in injustice can be traced to a judging God, a Ruler King, lordship and dominance, we encourage a wholesale overhaul of religious images and symbols. Resistance to that work is the measure of its necessity. Imagine if common language about the divine were gender inclusive, better, not anthropomorphic at all. Consider what a creation story that puts plants and animals on the same plane as people would do for ecology. Think about ways to teach children that diversity and difference, not sameness and dominance are to be celebrated.” 


For my part, I write and nag and preach when I can about the God I have known and remember always, not just in church. Many people say they do not believe in God anymore. I ask them to tell me about the God they do not believe in. Answers vary, but mostly they use language like Mary Hunt has described above: THE ONE Almighty, King, Ruler, Judge, Sky-King, Super-Man, Lord-of-Lords, and the like. I do not think of chipmunks with such images. Nor do I think of the God I know, present in small wonders, silly memories, and laughter.

I go upstairs to give my beloved a quick hug. He has baked chocolate chip cookies. They are cooling on the countertop and smell deliciously delectably deliriously holy. Why holy? I remember that the voice of God sprouted within me while I was baking chocolate chip cookies for my children back in the 1970s and feeling Stepford-dead. God-in-me asked: “Why are you doing this?" I didn’t know. I laughed. I still don’t know. I remember. It helps.

My husband the chef points to a reunion notice from my college and says: “Hey, it’s your 70th reunion in 2020!” He’s excited. “Look, Lyn, look.”  I look and see that it says the 70th reunion for the Class of 1950 is 2020. I graduated in 1960. “How old do you think I am?”  We laugh. It helps.

Opening the mail to throw out most of it, I spot just one envelope addressed to me. Envelopes marked first class are rare. It’s an invitation with a festive wreath on it. It’s pretty. It’s a YDS (Yale Divinity School) Christmas party, December 6th. That would be my late maternal grandmother’s 147th birthday. I remember. It helps. The invitation has promise. I show it to my husband who says: “Why don’t they have it up here where you live? We could go.” We laugh. It helps. I snitch a cookie, and only then notice that the bottom side is black. I laugh. It’s good anyway.

Today a small grandchild, five, exuberantly tells me two things on the phone, immediately after saying "Hi": 1) “I WILL be stronger than Phoebe (his older sister). Yup, I will.”  2) “For Christmas I want Transformers. I build them myself. They come in a kit, Grammy.” I laugh. I tell him okay. He laughs. It helps.

Children—even the ones most deprived, most alienated, most discarded, most depressed—still, even at the youngest ages, have dreams and hopes and aspirations and memories.

Who or what made you feel loved, even just for a moment or in a small way? 

I google Transformers, toy. Sure enough they are build-your-own whatever. If you can figure it out, feel free. It’s harder to build-your-own anything when you’re 80 than when you’re 5 and building your whole life in a toy you know is a robot. I laugh. I remember. It helps. Here is a Transformer transformed.

Maybe we can rebuild God?  God, we are told, transforms things, even the worst of things like injustice, inhumanity, evil, collective anxiety—maybe even the climate. But can we transform our ideas and images of God?  Will we?

Yup, we will.